A quick survey of your friend group will probably reveal the fact that many people don’t really understand how to use dental floss. Either that or they choose not to floss regularly.
While it’s normal to neglect to floss, doing so an unhealthy habit that too many people take part in. We’re going to dig into flossing in this article, exploring why we do it, how to do it, and what happens if you don’t.
Let’s get started:
Good Oral Hygiene: Your Relationship with Dental Floss
To start, let’s go over why it’s so important to floss in the first place.
Brushing and flossing are two of our best defenses against the onset of gum disease. We’re also trying to avoid developing rotten and discolored teeth. Those issues can become costly, unsightly, and do some serious damage to our self-esteem.
Not to mention, an unhealthy mouth typically gets reflected in through poor breath and dental pain.
The issues that come from poor oral hygiene are the result of colonies of unchecked bacteria that build up upon our gums and teeth. These can sink down into the roots of our teeth and gums, leading to a myriad of problems from root canals to gingivitis.
Foods are broken down in our mouths, leaving nutrients and a healthy environment for bacteria that end up on the exterior of our teeth. If left long enough, that bacteria can develop into larger and larger colonies called plaque. When the colony has taken root, it solidifies into dark splotches near our gums called tartar.
Tartar and loose bacteria tend to seep down into our gums and wreak havoc on the interior of our mouths, typically causing gum disease.
Where Flossing Comes into Play
Flossing, whether we like or not, serves to break up that process. Each time you properly floss, you’ll notice that you pick up little clusters of plaque in between your teeth. If you’ve neglected to floss long enough, there will inevitably be more plaque.
You may even notice that certain teeth produce plaque that’s darker and smells worse than the rest. This is simply a product of time and bacteria. It’s exactly why your breath begins to smell worse the longer you don’t brush or floss.
Flossing breaks up the colonies of bacteria that degenerate our oral health and make our breath smell awful. Each time you get in there, you effectively reset the process and force the bacteria out.
That’s why it’s so important to floss each and every day. It simply maintains the cleanliness of your oral situation and keeps your teeth white, smelling great, and free of disease.
How to Floss the Right Way
Because so many people forget to floss entirely, there’s a large group that doesn’t really know how to do it the right way. If you fall into that category, don’t sweat it. Everyone has to learn sometime and it’s always a good move to start doing things that will improve your health.
If you’re using traditional floss, start by breaking off something like 15 to 20 inches of floss. This might seem excessive, but it’s necessary to have some slack so that you can wrap it around your fingers and adjust the line when a portion of the floss starts to get weak.
Wrap either end of the floss around each of your middle fingers and leave about two inches of floss in the middle for your teeth. You’ll then use your thumbs to keep the line of floss firm and tight.
Once you’re in position, you’ll want to lightly press the floss between two of your teeth. You’ll likely get some resistance as you try to enter the gap. Be sure to gently glide the floss back and forth instead of pressing it firmly into your teeth.
Pushing too hard and snapping the line into your gums could cause damage and leave you in pain.
How to Use the Floss to Clean Plaque
Once you’re in between your teeth, gently move the floss back and forth around the base of your gums and up the walls of each tooth. When you’re working around the base, make sure to bend the floss around the tooth into a sort of “C”, this will help you to get the line a little deeper into the gum line.
The main goal is to get a gentle, comprehensive scrub of each tooth. You’ll repeat this process throughout the entirety of your mouth. Every tooth should get attention, no matter how hard it is to get your fingers into your mouth to floss there. Don’t forget the outsides of the teeth furthest back in your mouth, either.
As you work through all of the teeth, be sure to have a washcloth or some kind of receptacle for the plaque that will build up. You can wipe the plaque off each time you finish a particular cavity. You can also adjust the floss and use new pieces of the string as you make your way through your flossing routine.
Well-Rounded Oral Hygiene
It’s just as important to floss as it is to brush. Brushing addresses the exterior of your teeth and removes the plaque from most of the surfaces. Depending on your toothpaste, flossing may also help to whiten and improve the look of your teeth.
Brushing also makes your mouth smell better and improves the quality of your breath. If you aren’t already, you should also consider using mouthwash at night.
Mouthwash should be used after you brush and floss. The anti-bacterial quality of mouthwash allows it to kill off most of the bacteria that weren’t addressed when you were brushing and flossing.
This is most important at night, and you should refrain from washing your mouth out with water after using mouthwash because it’s meant to coat your mouth and kill bacteria as your sleeping.
Want to Learn More?
Using dental floss is just the beginning of goof oral hygiene. It’s crucial to understand how your mouth works and how to keep it clean.
Explore our site for more insight into keeping your pearly whites safe.